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Bills, bills galore for local politicians

Ryan Carter

As the first half of the 2003-04 state legislative session ended

Friday, local lawmakers took stock of their success or inability to

establish their laws and resolutions.

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Simply put, it was a good year for the Democrats, who control both

houses and have a Democrat governor -- albeit an embattled one.

Assemblyman Dario Frommer (D-Burbank), who has expressed interest

in becoming speaker of the assembly, had a good year.

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Six of his major bills have either been signed or awaited Davis’

signature late Friday. One that Davis signed makes it illegal for

elected officials to solicit charitable contributions in exchange for

a film permit. Two Frommer anti-price-gouging bills awaiting the

governor’s consideration would require hospitals to publicly list

sticker prices for medical procedures and would prevent hospitals

from billing patients rather than HMOs for care after visiting

emergency rooms.

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A bill written by Frommer that increases penalties for

tax-shelter abusers awaited Davis’ signature. So did legislation

prohibiting juvenile firearm offenders from buying or holding guns

until they turn 30. Frommer, chairman of the Assembly’s health

committee, also was a co-author of a controversial bill that requires

employers to pay health insurance for employees. That bill was

expected to move Friday from the Assembly floor to the governor’s

desk.

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“My year has been great,” said Frommer, adding that it wasn’t

easy. “Even with my own party, when you take on big subjects, you

have to work hard to get those bills through.”

State Sen. Jack Scott (D-Glendale) also had some success. Among

the two major Scott pieces of legislation on the governor’s desk are

a bill that would require semiautomatic handguns sold in the state to

have a clear-loaded chamber indicator and magazine disconnect safety

by 2007. Three Scott bills have been signed, and nine were pending in

this session.

As of late Friday, Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Canada

Flintridge), had three bills signed into law. They include an

education bill that makes California National Guard members called to

active duty eligible to have their college loans repaid. Also on the

list is business legislation that seeks to improve a state Board of

Equalization Program that Liu said could decrease burdens on

taxpayers. Three more of her bills were on Davis’ desk, including one

seeking privacy protections for Social Security numbers.

Local Republicans lamented their lack of legislative success, but

chalked it up to who has power in Sacramento -- the Assembly has 48

Democrats and 32 Republicans. In the Senate, 15 Republicans and 25

Democrats have seats.

Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy (R-La Crescenta) had a resolution

passed that designates the second week of March as Blue Star Families

Week during times of hostilities. State Sen. Bob Margett (R-La

Crescenta) had one bill signed that clarifies language in a

public-contracting law. Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-La Crescenta)

had two bills passed, including one that expands the state’s Healthy

Families program to include insurance for parents.


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